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  • New build: CAD desktop

    My buddy has asked me to help him put together a solid CAD rig that will last him a few years.

    "Under $800 would be nice, but if an extra hundred or two gets me a few more years out of it, that's totally worth it."

    He will be using it primarily for Solidworks. He does modeling and a small amount of materials computations. Most of his projects have less than 10 components. Storage size and redundancy isn't a huge concern, as the important files are small, and will be backed up to an off-site machine via a dropbox-type service or possibly a VPN. The PC he uses at work right now has a FirePro v4800, which he is happy with, so we don't need anything crazy in the GPU department. I was thinking a FirePro v4800 or Quadro 600. I'm not interested in flashing Quadro vBIOS onto a GeForce card and hacking the drivers; I don't want to be getting a phone call every time he updates his software. He wants 16GB ram and at least a quad core. I was thinking front USB3 ports would be very nice to have. He'll be running Win7 x64 and driving two preexisting 24" screens to start with.

    With all this said, desktops are not really my area of expertise, and some of you guys are awesome at finding deals, so I turn to you. What hardware can you put together for him that's in the $800 ballpark? He's not opposed to refurb equipment.

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  • #2
    Re: New build: CAD desktop

    From Newegg

    Western Digital Caviar Black WD7501AALS 750GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Hard Drive -Bare Drive
    $90

    CORSAIR Enthusiast Series TX650 V2 650W ATX12V v2.31/ EPS12V v2.92 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC High Performance Power Supply
    $90

    G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 16GB (4 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9Q-16GBRL
    $90

    MSI P67A-G43 (B3) LGA 1155 Intel P67 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
    $115

    Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80623I52500K
    $215

    ATI 100-505606 FirePro V4800 1GB GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 Workstation Video Card
    $160

    Subtotal: $760
    +$10 shipping
    +a case
    -$35 in MIRs if you remember to do them

    ->What little research I did showed that the next step up for workstation cards put the price of the card around $350-450
    ->You can get a cheaper and/or larger HDD if you want.
    ->going to an i7 increases the cost by $100-150
    Viking

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    • #3
      Re: New build: CAD desktop

      DaVikings recommendation is solid.

      I would pump up the CPU a little bit. In my experience Solidworks and AutoCAD stress the CPU harder than the GPU with positional computations, but it sounds like he isn't doing anything too sophisticated.

      I made the mistake of using giant (and ungodly expensive) ATI Fire series cards in our first ones, when a modest FireGL was just fine, but I just used high end pentiums (of the time) and they bottlenecked. Now we are still using the same Fire GL's I bought (5?) years ago, but they are in dual Xeon (8 core) workstations now.. and they rock socks.
      sigpic


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      • #4
        Re: New build: CAD desktop

        Thanks guys, that's good to hear about the video cards. He wanted to move on it a bit faster than I originally thought, so everything is now ordered. Here's what we got:

        Newegg:

        i7-2600
        Gigabyte GA-Z68 mobo
        16GB Corsair DDR3 1600
        Rosewill Ranger (has 2x USB3.0 plus eSATA on the front)
        Antec 430W PSU
        Random ASUS DVD burner
        Seagate Barracuda 1.5TB
        OCZ 60GB SATAIII SDD

        ebay:
        Firepro v4800

        Grand total was a little over $900, but I think he'll be very happy with the performance of the i7 and the SSD.

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        • #5
          Re: New build: CAD desktop

          I agree with DaViking, but go for the Intel DP55KG extreme series motherboard. Its a great motherboard that's definitely worth the extra bucks.

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          • #6
            Re: New build: CAD desktop

            I think your PSU wattage is cutting it a bit close. Under normal operating conditions, it should provide plenty of power. But if you have everything going at once on an intense render or something, it might not be enough. Just something to think about if your friend ever experiences instability during a heavy load.
            "Looking for brahs to come fight crime with me" - Unload



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            • #7
              Re: New build: CAD desktop

              The SSD will be nice. It feels like it takes forever to load Solidworks on the PCs I use.

              I am a little concerned about the low wattage on the PSU, but do not have enough knowledge to say if it will or will not work.
              Viking

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              • #8
                Re: New build: CAD desktop

                Thanks guys, I really appreciate the advice. Here's how I came up with the power supply (anything with a question mark is an estimate):

                95w TDP CPU
                75w TDP GPU
                25w max spinup draw on the HDD
                3w SSD at read/write
                38w USB (4x USB [email protected] + 8x USB [email protected])
                30w? DVD-R during write (number came from generic DVD-R web search)
                40w? RAM (approximately 10w/stick according to [H]ardforum search)
                20w? motherboard including chipset and CPU fan (according to generic google search)
                15w? case Fans ( 2x120mm + 1x140mm)


                According to manufacturer specs and what I believe are accurate to conservative estimates, that's 346w at absolute maximum draw. So if he's burning-in the CPU, GPU, and RAM and writing a DVD at 24x and writing to the SSD and spinning up the HDD and has every one of the 12 USB ports maxed out on power draw, he has right around 20% overhead.

                Now I'll be the first to admit that I could be way off on the RAM or mobo estimates or I might be living in on an ideal frictionless infinite plane, please let me know if that's the case. If it's not going to be enough, I'll order up a more generous PSU tonight and get this one turned around as soon as it shows up.
                Last edited by A_Grounded_Pilot; 10-26-2011, 11:25 PM.

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                • #9
                  Re: New build: CAD desktop

                  Using a Power Supply calculator, his system came out to a required wattage of 344 Watts. That's also factoring in 20% capacitor aging. So you're right, 420W should be fine.
                  "Looking for brahs to come fight crime with me" - Unload



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